Last year, senior English major Jake Kevrick wrote a play that was showcased for three nights at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Manhattan, a feat many young writers would envy. However, this once-in-a-lifetime chance didn’t come without its challenges; Kevrick had to cover his own expenses and hire only New Yorkers in three months, despite residing in Missouri. Though only 15 people showed up on opening night, 88 made it to closing night, which came close to filling the theatre.
The Ampersand: What is your play, Forgetting Dick and Jane, about?
Jake Kevrick: It’s a three-character play based on the 1930s children’s book characters Dick and Jane. It takes place in the literary world, which is made up of characters that are fictional in our world. The well-being of the characters in this world depends on their popularity in our world. For Dick and Jane and their little sister, Sally, that’s a problem. It’s terrifying to be forgotten in the literary world — it’s the equivalent of dying and people are scared of that. It’s really about their struggle between accepting the fact that they are dying versus wanting to be remembered forever.
Amp: Where did the idea for the play come from?
JK: I got the idea when I saw the original book from the ‘30s and wondered what happened to them. Dick and Jane were the books that every parent wanted their children to read and then around the 1970s, they just fell off. I wanted to bring them back, so I decided to create a literary world that spawned off the real world.
Amp: What are the characters like?
JK: Because Dick and Jane are becoming forgotten, they’re stuck in their apartment with Sally to keep them from harm. They’re much older now, and the mixture of being locked away plus being a part of this literary world since a young age has taken a toll on them. Jane has become a sex addict and chain smoker. Dick has dissociative identity disorder so he still thinks he is six, and Sally is an alcoholic.
Amp: What was the overall reception?
JK: I received great reviews and comments. One reviewer said ‘I never read a play summary that made me want to come and see it [before now.]’ All these things and more have given me great hope for the future.
Amp: What are you planning to do after graduation?
JK: I plan on moving to New York as soon as possible. I always knew New York is where I belonged, but getting the chance to put on my first play there sealed the deal. Playwriting is one of the main reasons my heart beats so fierce these days.[
Story: Jazmine O. Jones
Photos: Ryan Fitzgerald